Ties that comfort, ties that bind…

These are two lines from the song I will not let you down by Don McGlashan.  This song has been going through my head all day, just little snippets…

You must try to believe
That I will be coming through

I have carried my cross at each step
Upon my neck for you

There’s a tear in my eye
And an ocean of swallowed pride

Ties that comfort
Ties that bind

And I will not let you down
I will not let you down
That’s for sure

I will not let you down
I will not let you down
Any more

Today, these snippets mean a great deal to me.  I’ve just finished one of the worst weekends I’ve had regarding self-injury since before the ex-husband left.  I’ve done many things which I’m not proud of, or can even fathom.  I’m still shaking and trying to work through what happened.  But the lines “Ties that comfort, Ties that bind” got me thinking… wondering about how much I hold onto this self-injury, destructiveness and my mental health diagnoses.

The weekend of self-destruction started on Friday when I was triggered by a couple of incidences which lead to me to repeat the old patterns of needing to please people – in particular the ex-husband.  It didn’t matter that he is no longer present in my life, it was all about finding ways to repeat old behaviours and coping mechanisms.  But why did I do this?  The threat of him appearing in my life was minimal to non-existent.  I no longer want him in my life, yet he fills my flashbacks.  These flashbacks and the stress caused by the memories of him, have lead to me not being able to function at work, meant I’ve had to take an increasing amounts of medication and resulted in me losing huge chunks of time.  But I wonder how much of this I have brought on myself?  There is a certain comfort in being able to explain away my behaviour to his influence and abuse…  What if I’m using all of this as a convenient excuse to get away with inappropriate behaviours?

I read a comment recently from a fellow survivor, they said that they can’t stand those who aren’t actively working on their issues… Those that use the past as an excuse, rather than a cause for healing.  This sort of argument has always worried me – whose to say that I am doing enough in this healing journey?  What if I am wallowing in self-pity and excuses?  Whose yardstick am I being measured against?  What does the yardstick even look like?  It’s the sort of argument that I’ve heard several times, but it does my head in.  I’ve been judged all my life, now I’m healing and I’m still being judged?  When does the judging end?

Another comment that hit close to the bone, was a good friend saying to me that I wasn’t sounding like the survivor he knew.  He’s right (you usually are Paul), I wasn’t a survivor over the weekend… I was a battered victim… like an addict looking for their next fix of self-harm.  All adult knowledge of consequences went out the window.  At times I could hold it together, but these were short lived.  The nights were especially difficult… looking for the ex-husband in each shadow… looking for ways to hurt myself and undermine all the work that I had been doing.  It wasn’t a deliberate attempt by any one within the system to cause harm, it was me coping in the only way I knew…  But what if the only way I knew was perpetuating that tie that binds me to this place of being a victim?  I know the role of being a victim… there’s a comfort in fulfilling a role I know well… so how tied am I to it?  How much of my energy is spent in ensuring I stay there?  I’d like to say that it’s not a great deal, but I just don’t know.

I know that I’m bound to the past in many ways… flashbacks and other PTSD symptoms indicate that.  My healing is aimed at breaking these binds.  This weekend, I failed.  I failed myself, the dissociative system and the people around me who count on me to be a survivor.  My trust in those around me and myself has been seriously shaken.  I’ve come out of this weekend distrustful and scared of people again.  I hate that this has happened.  I hate that I’ve put a great dent in my healing.  I’ve come out questioning everything about my motivations and what I am doing…  Is this healing really working?  Why am I doing this?

I know these are all questions that I need to ask Liz… but I fear she will give me an answer that is meant to soothe, rather than be truthful.  I fear that I have become comfortable in the role of a victim and that those ties are keeping me in this place.  I worry that being a victim has become my identity and way of life… I know that my life is so restricted by the different triggers that I sometimes can’t see past it.  I know that some of the things Liz suggests to change in my life, I can’t do… or I explain that I’ve already tried them and failed.  I’m not very good at giving things a second go, if I fail once, then I’ve often failed forever… especially when it comes to my healing work.  I cut myself very little slack in that area… is that another sign that I’m tied to being a victim?  I just don’t know anymore…

—————-
Now playing: Cat Stevens – Where Do The Children Play?
via FoxyTunes

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17 thoughts on “Ties that comfort, ties that bind…

  1. hmmmm, had a post started…where’d it go?
    Proly it was dumb anyhow.
    So quick version.
    I am told healing takes long time esp w/DD cuz it so friggin complex w/alla the parts fears etc.
    Somes got a vested interest in keeping you where you at. They don’t want to be lost.
    Lotsa times it scarey to people the thot of being ‘well’.
    Good to talk bout that w/T.
    We been talking bout that some in a forum, bout hows maybe sometimes a break from being immersed in ‘healing’ is sometimes good. Taking a breather. Cuz it crazymaking hard work.
    Anyhow, my understanding is that sometimes we fall down, thats normal and expected, but then we get up again and keep going.
    I been talking to T in last 2 sessions re: SI not being such a big deal. If I keep it mild, then it ok to help me cope. She not agree, I can’t convince her. She keep saying it not fair? I dunno WTF she talking about?
    So anyways, sorry you all shook up and feeling bad.
    Hope your T can help you sort.
    DD’s are confusing SO much 😦
    Be safe.

    • I might add. That I DO have parts that block therapy. My T admits that sometimes she gets frustrated by their behaviour. But says they are important too, and just afraid.
      There are so many twists and turns internally. So many protectors. So much fear and I guess separation.
      Its hard for me to let go. I been holding everything in and pretending everything is wonderful for a great many years.
      T says take it slow.
      So maybe some of this may twig you into thinking of something, or not. Hard for me to know.
      Just you DO try hard to figger stuff, I have seen that too. So like me, I think there are parts of you that are trying very very hard to progress.
      Sigh. Just takes time.
      Someboddy said a cool thing in a board I am on
      “”In the middle of the chaos who says we cannot have fun, learn, play, and just be.”
      I think that is a very very important insight that I often forget. Therapy doesn’t have to be all horrible. We can stop and smell the roses.
      Cuz ya, there IS such beauty in the world too. We NEED to stop and look at it from time to time.
      Therapy is hard, hard work.
      Yesterday, I stopped and watched a crow party(birds), it was a beautiful day, blue sky. They were bathing in a puddle. Sitting in these tall fir trees shaking the water out of their feathers. Talking away to each other.Busy, busy. Happy, visiting.
      I felt this peace steal over me.
      I haven’t felt this in a LONG time.
      I thot to myself, this is so good. If I could feel this more often, then all this work is so worth it. It felt SO good.
      Guess thats what we aiming for.
      TC

      • I agree that any self injury is negative… It can effect the system in ways we don’t know and can lead to a lack of trust between parts. I know that intellectually, but it was difficult putting it into practice over the weekend.

        This healing is hard work! I know parts get stuck and resist growth… it’s all so confusing.

        It sounds like a beautiful moment watching the birds… it’s moments like that which make this hard work seem bearable. I’m glad you could stop it all for a little while and just enjoy the things around us 🙂

        Take care,
        CG

  2. First of all, I don’t want soothing you, but I think your post already proof that you aren’t tied to being a victim. Why? Because you think about it, you reflect your behaviour, your motivation, your thinking. A victim, someone who don’t work on healing would never do this: thinking about it. I really have met such people in the hospital and I really don’t like them because they like there role, they feel good with it!
    I have already thought about this “victim role” very often too and I even asked my thera about this, because one of my greatest fears was always, that the professionals would mark me as “hopeless” case and because I have always seen myself so. Her answer: “No, you don’t pause in the victim role, otherwise you wouldn’t sit here by me and make therapy and hard work”.

    Please, don’t mistake the effects and consequences of the many traumas you have survived with your motivation. I also have still to fight a lot with self-harm behaviour and self injuries and even when I’m sometimes in such a bad mood so that I see the world only dark and hopeless as in your last post I’m not tied to being a victim and neither are you! My thera wouldn’t work with me, if I hadn’t the motivation to change. Please talk to your thera about it.
    Sending many save warm hugs to those who want’s them (((()))) Take Care.

    • Thank you for you comment LostShadowChild… it helped me so much…

      I also fear being considered a hopeless case – either by myself or the health professionals. I suppose the weekend encouraged me to write myself off…

      When I was talking to Liz about the weekend, she was asking me pointed questions about how my reactions reminded her of my childhood and my reactions back then. She helped me to draw the comparisons and see the influences. So I can understand it a little better… I still don’t like it, but I can understand it.

      Thank you for your comment 🙂
      (((warm safe hugs))) to those who want them
      CG

  3. What Lost Shadow Child said. ((hugs))

    This might be a dumb suggestion, and you know I don’t understand DID very well, but have you thought about asking yourself (or parts of yourself) what they have to lose by giving up these old ways of coping? And, may be, what they have to gain?

    • I have been asked those questions Kerro, and usually I hit a brick wall. The response is usually “that’s all I know” or “it’s what I am”. So I know I’m dealing with parts who have a long history of coping in this way. It’s like when you’re trying to change any coping mechanism or habit… it takes time and effort. Sometimes the changes don’t stick or work…

      Take care (((Kerro)))
      CG

  4. If asking another alter would be as simple as asking a good neighbor, but it is not, it’s more like breaking the silence with a neighbor who you didn’t speak with for past 20 years after you had been witnessing the unspeakably terrible scene in your neighbor’s backyard at the time :((

    • That’s a great metaphor T.B.O. 🙂

      And there’s neighbourhood tension, because each neighbour views the world in a different way and has different motivations.

      It can be scary looking into their backyard and seeing how they view the world, but we must…

      Take care,
      CG

  5. Hey Castorgirl, I don’t think we have ever commented here before, however we read often. What struck me is the part about the other survivor saying how they can’t stand others…. first of all how judgmental of THAT survivor. Second, I think the questions you asked in response to them are valid ones and yet very individual ones as well. Who’s yardstick is used to measure “how hard someone is working” honestly I don’t want to be around anyone whos sole focus is trauma work, I find that retruamatizing. For me sometimes just brushing my teeth is hard. As long as you are honest with you regarding your intentions and behavior, well that there is the work. Peace to you and ever onward.
    Tyler

    • Hi Tyler,

      I realise that the statement by the survivor was judgmental, it’s also not the first time I’ve heard it. It’s the sort of statement that plays on my fears… I’m never sure of whether my intentions are totally open, or what that even being honest about my intentions “looks like”… At times, I feel incredibly unaware of what I’m doing, or why I’m doing it.

      Thank you for your comment 🙂

      Take care,
      CG

  6. Hi CG,

    You don’t sound like a victim here. Asking questions is not a victim stance. Trying to puzzle out connections is not a victim stance. Reaching out to others even though this past weekend left you with more difficulties in doing so is not a victim stance. Seeing your limitations in healing and trying to figure out what else to do is not a victim stance. Being able to look at all of this is not being a victim. It makes you look courageous, even though you don’t feel that way. Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

    • Hi Kate,

      I thank you for your support, even though I don’t feel worthy of what you have written here. I know that’s my low self esteem talking, but it’s all I feel at the moment.

      Take care,
      CG

  7. The thing to keep in mind is that none of us do the best things for ourselves all the time. Yes, you maybe didn’t act like the survivor I’ve come to know you as. But you battle back. Sometimes we take a break and lose touch with what we need to do to stay safe and heal. But, you are working very hard and that counts for quite a bit.

    • Thank you Paul… I know I wasn’t acting like my usual self over the weekend (or today), but I am slowly getting back to some form of equilibrium.

      Take care,
      CG

  8. Personally, I think there is a difference between being discerning and being judgmental. As Lost Shadow Child astutely observes: “A victim, someone who don’t work on healing would never do this: thinking about it. I really have met such people in the hospital and I really don’t like them because they like there role, they feel good with it!”

    There are survivors who choose to live in a place of blaming others and refusing to take responsibility for their own healing. They do this even when they are in therapy. Those are the people who suck the life out of their support systems, and who are likely to be abusive and harmful to others, as they externalize everything rather than choosing to the work.

    I’ve never heard you do that. You’ve had some incredibly bad luck with therapists and mental health systems, but even then, although there has been appropriate disappointment and anger, you haven’t chosen to let that confusion and pain stop your quest for healing. You may wallow in your hurt sometimes, as we all do, but you’re still wallowing with a sense of direction, and a desire to see the other side. I have never gotten the sense that you are comfortable, complacent, or enjoying the hard times. Some people do. And those people are dangerous to themselves, and to others … those are the people who often turn into abusers themselves. Maybe it’s judgmental of me to think so, but I’ve seen it often enough to know it’s true. People who refuse accountability and responsibility aren’t safe or good people to be around.

    You’re not in that category by any stretch of the imagination. You have somewhere you’d like to go, and you’re taking responsibility for getting there.

    • Hi David,

      I know what you mean about some people seeming to enjoy the position that they are in, or externalising the blame. I’ve seen this in others, and I typically try to avoid associating with them. They tend to create a toxic situation that could envelope you all to easily – and I know I’m overly sensitive to the people around me. But it still plays on my fears… am I really doing enough to heal? Because I don’t see the progress as quickly as I’d like, I get frustrated and think that I’m somehow blocking my own healing. But then Liz said the other day that she’s seen great improvement…

      This ties into the idea of how we identify ourselves… some people identify themselves as a person who is (for example) a mother, sister, worker, survivor of abuse etc. Other people identify themselves as a victim of abuse, mother, sister etc. I also see this at my work with people who enjoy gossiping and wallowing in the negativity… this has nothing to do with them being survivors, but it’s become their identity to complain and see the negative in any situation. These women are toxic to be around… I try to avoid them too 🙂

      Thank you for your comment David, I’d heard this statement several times by different people around the blogs, and it’s always niggled at me – fodder for what they describe as the inner critic.

      Take care,
      CG

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